Coronavirus: NPR, first phase of Census, deferred due to countrywide lockdown

Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and country-wide lockdown, the NPR and Census exercises have been deferred until further orders.

The exercise to update the National Population Register (NPR) and the first phase of the Census 2021 have been deferred indefinitely due to the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials said on Tuesday.

The two exercises were supposed to be carried out from April 1 to September 30.

Due to the prevailing situation, the NPR and Census exercises have been deferred until further orders, a senior home ministry official said.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday evening, announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown to mitigate the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Home Ministry had recently said the preparation for the Census 2021 and updation of the NPR were at its peak and will begin from April 1.

The ministry said this after a conference of the Directors of the Census Operations on status of preparatory work around Census 2021 and NPR updation.

There has been opposition from several state governments to the NPR and some of them even adopted resolution expressing their opposition to the exercise.

The states which have been opposing the NPR include Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar. However, most of them also said they will cooperate with the house listing phase of the Census.

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars, they said.

The notification for the house listing census and NPR exercise came recently amid furore over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The Home Ministry officials said most of the states have notified provisions related to the NPR.

The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census 2011. Updating of this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.

While updating the register in 2015, the government has asked details like Aadhaar and their mobile number.

This time, the information related to their driving licence and voter ID card may also be gathered, the officials said, adding that PAN card details will not be collected as part of this exercise.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)